After a long wait (a ridiculous 14 years to be exact), Incredibles 2 is finally here. To put this in perspective, fans waited 16 years between Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. With that sort of time to let hype build, does returning director Brad Bird have what it takes to deliver on a worthy sequel to an audience potentially feeling “superhero fatigue”?
We rejoin the Parr family literally immediately after the ending of Incredibles 1, as the battle with the Underminer (voiced by Pixar hero John Ratzenberger) rages on. This was quite a nice storytelling touch to dust off the real time gap in between the two movie releases and immediately continue the plot. The entire cast is back, with Mr. Incredible (Craig Nelson), Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), Violet, Dash, and newcomer Jack-Jack. After a blundered attempt to stop the Underminer, the Incredible family is hit with somewhat of a Sokovia Accords situation, in which the government wishes the family would have stayed out of the battle entirely. ‘Supers’ are made illegal, and the family is hit with hard times. Enter business tycoon Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), a PR and business expert offering to re-launch ‘Supers’ into the public eye with a positive spin. This sets up the two main storylines, Elastigirl taking on the ‘Supers’ assignments, and Mr. Incredible staying at home taking care of the kids. What follows ends up being a role reversal for the family, and sets up some great action scenes with Elastagirl, and hilarious family hi-jinx with Mr. Incredible.
I have never gone into a Pixar film and wondered if I’d be in for a storytelling and visual treat, but for some reason I wasn’t really anticipating this release. However, even surrounded by sneezing, snorting, and screaming children in a sold out theater, within the first 15 minutes I had a giant smile on my face. Pixar movies are always held to a very high standard, excluding a few missteps like Cars 2, Planes (kinda), and The Meh Dinosaur, and I was quickly reminded why.
Even characters I was dreading, like Jack-Jack, are wonderfully used. What could have been a fart-joke filled, “Minions” style humor, was instead an extremely creative, fun, and hilarious character that walked the thin line of childish humor mixed with superhero action. Jack-Jack even has the most memorable superhero fight in the film with an unlikely nemesis, which I won’t spoil here. Pixar always puts the story and it’s characters first, and it’s good to see the Parr family remain front and center here, even with the addition of new ‘Supers’ joining the mix. Samuel L. Jackson returns as Lucius Best / Frozone, and while he has limited screen time, he’s used as effectively and remains just as fun as he was in the first Incredibles.
Where this movie really surprised me was the visuals and the action set-pieces. Brad Bird has an eye for the action, and he’s already delivered action in a BIG way with films such as Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. What we get here, after 14 years of technological advancements in CGI, is nothing short of breathtaking. Elastagirl’s powers are used in ways that Fantastic Four only wishes they came up with, and the newcomers powers are displayed with dazzling effects. Seizure warnings aside, the new villain, Screenslaver, has some very creepy and intense visuals as well. Whether it was Jack-Jack swapping between random powers, or Frozone surfing up and down ice, the film is a visual feast that I wished I could have repeated immediately.
The small missteps the film has come with the superhero genre territory. The villain is weak, as are their motives, and the storyline is essentially a gender-swapped rehash of Incredibles 1. This is disappointing, given the time the writers had to come up with a sequel, but it doesn’t detract the film too much overall. With the ridiculous ticket sales, don’t expect 14 years to pass until Incredibles 3, as I have a feeling we’ll be seeing the Parr family again very soon.
Incredibles 2 does the impossible and meets expectations after 14 years of hype. It laughs in the face of “Superhero fatigue” and delivers what is likely to be one of the best summer blockbusters we’ll have in 2018. Every character gets a moment to shine, the action is mind bending and visuals are eye-popping. With a stronger villain this could have been a perfect movie, but give Pixar and the team your hard earned money and a round of applause for delivering one hell of a sequel.
PS – Make sure to check out our full in-depth review of Incredibles 2 on our latest Podcast!